Rarely can a person join an organization destined for greatness in the early days of its development and then play a key role in helping it fulfill that destiny. I was presented with such an opportunity when I joined FedEx* in 1979. After I had spent the better part of my career helping FedEx become one of the most successful and admired companies in the world, I retired three years ago and decided to share some of the lessons I had learned. Since then, I have addressed business groups across the country and have acted as an advisor and business consultant. During this period, I have had numerous conversations with top executives from dozens of companies about the factors that make a company grow. In these talks with leaders of businesses both large and small, I have asked the same question:
“What is the one improvement that would enable you to realize your revenue and profit growth goals?”
Here are some of the responses I have heard:
“For us to achieve our top line and bottom line targets in today's highly competitive global economy, we have to innovate. We cannot continue to do business the way we have been doing.”
“To continue to grow in today's highly competitive economy we have to outthink and outperform the competition. To have a competitive edge, we must have an innovation edge.”
“In today's economy, there is no such thing as a sustainable competitive advantage. We must tap into the creative potential of each employee and harness it to create an innovation culture ...